« PreviousContinue »
not only may all the different species with which we are now acquainted, be traced to a first origin - but all preceding orders of living and growing creatures, must have had their commencement also, within the limits of time. Undoubtedly, therefore, the existence of the human race, together with the whole present and past system of animal and vegetable life, is an effect which nature and philosophy compel us to ascribe to some adequate cause. Every one knows that this adequate cause can be only one—THE FIAT OF
HUNTER'S ORATION. VARIOUSLY placed as we are in society, with different talents, opportunities, and duties, equality of attainment is neither to be expected nor desired. Indeed, its diversity binds society together; and it is the duty of us all, as much as in us lies, to strive to lay the ground-work well. More especially is this the duty of those, who aspire to situations, that will hold them up as examples and instructors to others. They inust go from the agent to the material, from the material to the structure, from the structure to the function; then to local, relative, and sympathetic connection; to the varied nature and effects, whether local or general. And they must avail themselves in their progress of all the lights which the different branches of philosophy will afford them; conducting themselves throughout, as the humble enquirers, and teachable scholars of nature, who, if we overlook the supremacy of her laws, or break away from the minuteness and subtility of her arrangements, will mock at our speculations, and write our theories in the sand. It is by this orderly assemblage of principles in the mind, that it will be made at once discriminating and comprehensive. It is this alone which can fully fit us, fairly to estimate, or faithfully to correct, either the opinions of others, or those which we ourselves may form ; which can render us fertile in expedients, and point out the way of safety, where the beaten path divides, or stops short before us. Experience has been justly defined, by a celebrated German philosopher, * to consist in what we know by an attention to our perceptions. But if we are not careful to acquire, and proceed upon, a just and coherent knowledge of principles, our perceptions will be partial and dislocated; and our experience will soon dwindle away into mere superficial remark, and almost undistinguished repetition. Science admits neither monopoly nor mystery in her train, and bestows her chief applause on those who elucidate truth by truth; who discover the connections of facts with the principles on which they rest, and unreservedly lay them open to the world; she always welcomes the unsophisticated narration of facts, from what quarter soever it may come.
Not the wisest among us can tell by whom the most important of them shall first be observed. Truth has been well compared to a ball of crystal, that fell down from heaven, and dashed into thousands of pieces, which were scattered all over the earth. No individual, however extensive his domain, has possession of the whole. Often you will find an useful portion where you least expect it. Only be sure that you know the characters of the true gem, and are able to distinguish it from counterfeits; and then you need not despair of discovering some fragment at least, which, fitly adjusted, or wisely deposited, may not only enrich your own mind, but also render you of service to others.
* Wolfius-Logic, c. 5.
ON LIMITED MONARCHY.
GENTLEMEN, you are probably aware that of late great hostility has been shown towards the House of Lords; that notice has been given by an hon, member that he would, at an early period of next session, move for leave to bring in a bill to reform the House of Lords. By reforming the House of Lords, I understand nothing more than that they should be deprived of having a voice, and by it is meant the establishment of a popular assembly free from all control. my opinion that such an assembly, investing itself with absolute power of legislation, would soon attack the prerogatives of the crown, and destroy the constitution. I do not hesitate to say that such an usurpation on the part of one branch of the legislature would end in the most intolerable tyranny. Gentlemen, I am for the maintenance of the British constitution. Gentlemen, I hope that
you will not pass such a libel on the Reform Bill, as to declare it inconsistent with the maintenance of the British constitution. I for one cannot do so, and I will strive to the utmost of
my power to prevent the tyranny that would arise from that assembly which should be elected solely by the public voice. The history of all countries, at least the history of every country in Europe that have tried the experiment, that have adopted the establishment of such an assembly, proved that it was not compatible with the liberty or happiness of
any of those countries. Why, the very history of our own country, as well as the history of France, and other countries, showed what were the results of being governed solely by an assembly elected by the public voice. assembly generally ends in the assumption of supreme power by some successful military commander, to whom the people revert, thinking it better to submit to one tyrant rather than bow to the many-headed one, to which they had been before subject, in the shape of one popular assembly. If they should risk trying such an experiment, they would find that the results would always be the same—that they did not arise from any thing like mere accidental circumstances, but proceeded from causes inherent to human nature. When I consider the feelings of the people of this country—when I consider the way property is distributed—when I consider the rights of that properly-when I consider the ancient laws by which every thing connected with this country is bound together, it is my belief that if one assembly should legislate singly, call it the House of Commons, or by any other name you please, the same results would follow which I have already pointed out. In such an assembly you would have the civil power usurped by some military commander, and you would be glad, like the
people of France, after pouring out a deluge of blood, to revert to the ancient order of things, and to establish monarchy once more.
Sir R. Peel.
THE BRITISH NATION. I SERVE the office of an index-of a kind of finger-post, pointing out the bearing of the public mind. The enemies of British and Irish liberty would be stupid as the wooden finger-post if they could not learn from that applause what must be the intensity of public feeling on the subject of which I am the feeble advocate. Throwing up a feather shows the way the wind blows; and the breeze blows strongly to guide the good ship Britannia to a safe harbour. To abandon metaphor, however, the greetings with which I have been received by the accumulation of congregated thousands—the congregation of rational men by whom I have been welcomed, all demonstrate that we are arrived at one of those periods of English history upon which turns the question whether the present state of things is to end in the degredation of the English name, or the exaltation of English virtue by the acquirement of our rights. We have come to the crisis-we must either write ourselves down slaves, or you must demand that there shall be no such thing as irresponsible, and therefore abused, power. The question is, whether you are to have one hundred and seventy masters or not; one hundred and seventy irresponsible masters ? What is the title by which they claim to rule you ? That they are an ancient institution. This looks all very well ; but I should as soon think of suppressing the